WELL, let’s face it, it’s been a rough few months for our social lives in Hong Kong. Most of us are sick of being indoors, sick of homeschooling and ready to return to normal. But, alas while Hong Kong is still in virus prevention mode, it looks like it will be a least a few more months of solitude at home. And with extended isolation in our (usually) small apartments, it’s easy to lose touch with our tribe of friends and family. And that can have a negative effect on our day to day energy and spirit.
With that issue in mind we at WELL recently reached out to Episcopal priest and spiritual guru Martha Macgill for some advice on how to beat the Coronavirus blues and stay spiritually strong while practicing responsible social distancing.
WELL, : What affect does staying at home have on our mental health?
MM: Being isolated from one another is disorienting. And it has been a very disorienting few months. COVID-19 has scrambled all our routines. And COVID-19 has the potential to continue to scramble and divide our communities. Our challenge is to distance ourselves physically from one another as best we can but not distance ourselves emotionally and spiritually. For without connection we can become lost.
WELL, : With that in mind what can we do to avoid feeling disoriented?
MM: I think the best thing we can do right now is stay engaged with people. Even when we must be physically distant, when we are in communication with others, we are never alone. Here are some suggestions that seem simple but can go a long way:
- Make a list of people you haven’t talked to in some time, make sure to include people who may be especially lonely during this time such as an older person at home
- Pick up the phone and call them to say hello
- If you don’t want to call, write a letter
- Or record a video message and send it along
WELL, : There is a lot of hype and fear around the spread of the virus. How can we combat this and not let it affect our mindset?
MM: True, in fact, I think fear can take us over. But we have a choice. We can choose the values of understanding, compassion and hope. We need to stay calm and grounded in our actions and mindset.
- When we go to the store and customers who are piling countless bottles of water and enough toilet paper for months into their carts, understand that fear has taken over, have compassion for them. Then, only buy what you need at the store and don’t buy into that behavior.
- Offer to buy groceries for friends that can’t make it to the store or who don’t want to wait in the lines
- Buy extra canned goods and donate to a local shelter
WELL, : What other activities do you suggest in order to stay mentally fit and positive?
MM: Get Outside! Hong Kong has a bunch of beautiful places to explore. Try a new outdoor activity. (see WELL, suggestions below). Staying active and getting sunlight are important to fighting the virus blues.
With all the free time at home, find a quiet place to meditate. Keeping your mind rested and stress free can be difficult during these times, but mediation certainly helps.
Stretch, read, Yoga … all good things too.
Good luck to everyone during this stressful time. Like all things this situation will pass, so keep that in your mind as well. Live in the now and take care of yourselves!
Here are a few suggested activities from the WELL, team:
- Bike- Bike along the Shing Mun River in Shatin.
- Hike – When hiking with little kids, try the family friendly Ma On Shan Family Walk. It’s about a 30-40 min hike with a bbq area to relax at afterwards
- Swim- Try your hand at open water swimming with a weekly swim group, every Saturday. Usually Repulse Bay, but does rotate so check facebook group!
- Paddleboard- For more info check-out our in-depth article on this all around workout in nature https://wellmagazineasia.com/stand-up-paddle-boarding-the-inside-story/
About Mother Martha:
Rev. Martha Macgill is WELL,’s go-to guru for all things spiritual. Her insight is always genuine, raw and comes from a place of immense wisdom. Her path is a unique one. Originally from the United States, Martha started her career in law. She has degrees in law from prestigious institutions University of Virginia and New York University (NYU). Her life underwent a major shift early in her career and she found her true calling, the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. That career took her to different places, including a 3-year stint as leader of a small parish outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, to a diverse church in downtown Baltimore, Maryland USA. She now lives with her husband, dog and cat in Western Maryland and is head rector at the town’s landmark church, Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Her passion is to assist people in difficult times, influence positive change in the community and help young people develop and find their calling in life. We are excited to have her on board at WELL, to share her insights with our readers. We hope her nuggets of wisdom will help you stay grounded and cultivate your spiritual life whatever that looks like for you.
About Ask Mother Martha Series:
Every month Martha will answer questions and provide insights on varied themes. She can give advice on all kinds of topics. How to cope with work stress, the death of a loved one, relationship advice, just to touch on a few. If you have any issue you are dealing with or would like guidance on please send in a brief description and your question to email@example.com.
We at WELL, will review your question and perhaps include it together with Martha’s response in an upcoming article. We hope you enjoy and look forward to your feedback!
Written exclusively for WELL, Magazine Asia by Mother Martha